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Diversity or Inclusion? Does It Matter What You Call It?

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke Visconti

Question:

“Diversity” or “inclusion”? What are your thoughts on the prospect that the focus is misguided in this regard?

 

Wouldn’t it be much stronger and more unifying to celebrate “E Pluribus Unum” instead of focusing on what sets us apart (and often over which we have no control, e.g., race and gender)? 

 

Answer:

Diversity, inclusion, civil rights, affirmative action–bananas. Call it what you will; as far as I’m concerned, when the majority figures out that you’re a proponent for a true level playing field, you’ll get rhetoric against it.

 

I celebrate “E Pluribus Unum” (out of many, one). One group of people united behind the concepts of civil and human rights codified by our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, honed and improved by centuries of democratically conceived amendments and acts.

 

In my opinion, it is a mistake to assume that the “Pluribus” needs to be “melted” into the “Unum” to make a united country. To leverage your early American analogy, the symbol of the Senate and House (see picture above) include fasces to symbolize that a group of individuals is stronger than the sum of the parts. But the rods in the fasces remain distinct in their identity if they are to have great strength. 

 

You’re right–we have no control over our race and gender. However, in our society, those very factors have a presiding role in our opportunities. Since we cannot control race and gender (or age, disability or orientation), the documents behind “E Pluribus Unum” demand that we equally protect the rights of our individual “Unums.” The strength of the fasces depends on it.

 

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Some day we may no longer need to focus on race, gender, orientation, disability and/or age.

 

I don’t think you and I will live long enough to see that day.

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